Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder News

Return To Sports After Shoulder Replacement

Many older adults return to sports or recreational activities after a hip or knee replacement. Why not after a total shoulder replacement (TSH)? More and more adults age 65 and older are enjoying golf, swimming, tennis, and softball. A painful shoulder that's limited in motion can interfere with these activities.

This is only the second study reporting on patient sports involvement after shoulder replacement. Over a 10-year period of time, 75 active patients with 86 shoulder replacements were followed for at least two years. Sports participation and level of competition were assessed. Frequency of activity, time it took to get back into action, and level of ability were all measured.

Most of the patients had some type of arthritis -- osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis, or posttraumatic arthritis. A wide range of data was collected and compared for each patient. Age, reason for surgery, hand dominance, type of procedure, medication use, and any other health problems were collected and categorized. Patients were asked to report any further surgery they may have had on the shoulder with the replacement.

The authors presented a table of type of activities and number of patients involved in each one. They also provided a bar graph with rate of return to sports after shoulder replacement. More than half the patients participated in more than one activity. Most were unable to join in any sports events just before surgery. This was due to pain, loss of motion, and decreased function.

Activities ranged from swimming (most common activity) to handball (only one patient in this category). Golf, tennis, downhill skiing, weight lifting, fishing, softball, and bowling were other commonly reported activities for this group of patients. Less often, hunting, ballroom dancing, horseback riding, kayaking, and basketball were listed. A few patients were involved in bodybuilding, aerobics, wrestling, and sailing.

The rate of return to each activity was as low as 20 per cent for softball and as high as 92 per cent for fishing. Many of the more common activities had a 75 to 86 per cent return rate.

On average, it took three to four months for patients to return to a sporting activity on a part-time basis. Full return to sports took another three months' time. About 20 per cent did not resume any kind of sports or recreational activity. Other health problems such as high blood pressure, asthma, and diabetes were factors in this decision.

The authors concluded that active patients don't have to put aside sports and recreational involvement after a shoulder replacement. Repetitive motion such as swimming isn't a problem. Many of the older athletes even reported improved ability after the surgery. Patients were less likely to resume sports requiring full range of motion with load such as softball or weight lifting.

Eric C. McCarty, MD, et al. Sports Participation After Shoulder Replacement Surgery. In American Journal of Sports Medicine. August 2008. Vol. 36. No. 8. Pp. 1577-1581.


*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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